Madrid and Barcelona clash over control of the Catalonia police force

Protesters pack the University square in Barcelona Spain Sunday Sept. 24. Thousands of Catalan separatists are rallying in public squares in Barcelona and other towns in support of a disputed referendum on independence of the northeastern region from S

"If the outcome is a "yes" vote and a unilateral declaration of independence follows, the destabilising effect on the economies of Catalonia and Spain could be very large".

A police spokesman said the 15 questioned were accused of allegedly "disseminating a website for people to participate in a referendum declared illegal by the Constitutional Court".

With five days to go until the October 1 vote, the clash between Catalonia's pro-separatist government and Madrid is increasingly being played out in the arena of logistics and worldwide opinion.

President Trump's decision to chime in reflects the largely anti-secessionist views across the West right now, with many nations fearing they'd face similar votes if Catalonia succeeded.

President Trump welcomes Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy outside the West Wing of the White House on September 26.

Officers from the Guardia Civil police force also paid a visit to several town halls to ask them to hand over documents related to the banned vote on October 1, the Association of Pro-Independence Municipalities told AFP.


Catalonia's referendum on independence is scheduled for Sunday, despite Spain prohibiting it from happening. Police have seized ballot boxes, ballot papers and will take control of voting booths before Sunday.

The Catalan government maintains the referendum will go ahead although it has not explained where people will vote if they can not access the voting booths.

Calling the referendum "anti-democratic and illegal", the deputy PM insisted that it "would not be possible" to happen. He has promised to declare independence within 48 hours of a victory for the yes campaign.

This has prompted the Catalan regional government to accuse central authorities of imposing an "undeclared state of emergency".

The independence movement is widespread enough that it is unlikely to dissipate if the regional government fails to convert a "yes" vote into a split from Spain. In recent years, the regions have been given greater political autonomy, but far from defusing the desire to break away, in this case Catalonia's parliament has put it on a crash course with the Spanish government.

"We will let the government and the people there work it out, and we will work with whatever government or entity that comes out of it", Nauert said.

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